As if the zero pay and horrible hours weren’t bad enough, it’s a real kick in the teeth that there are no personal assistants in parenting. Or should I say, there were no personal assistants. You lucky duck new parents are now privy to the beauty and power of the ever-helpful Amazon Echo. Man, oh man, I really could’ve used one when I was in the bleary-eyed thick of things with two boys under the age of 3. Think of all the bedtime stories that would have been read; the diapers that would have arrived on time; the showers I could’ve taken. “Alexa, play baby lullabies.” “Alexa, remind me to brush baby’s teeth.” “Alexa, change the baby.” Wait, can she do that? Give her a minute. She’ll probably figure it out. In the meantime, here are lots of other ways to take advantage of your own live-in helper.
When You Need to Take a Shower Already!
I likely would’ve bathed a whole lot more as a new mom if I didn’t feel nervous about leaving baby in the bouncer on the bathroom floor while I hopped in the shower for a few minutes. (What was I worried about, anyway? He wasn't going anywhere!) If I were to do it all again (I’m not), I’d put my little guy in his bouncer or drag his play yard close to the bathroom door and take a shower, like, every day. With an Amazon Echo Dot within earshot, I could’ve eased my new-mom neurosis by asking Alexa to play my babe’s favorite song when he got cranky without having to thumb through music on my phone with soapy hands, or to call grandma to distract him while I scrub-a-dub-dubbed. And maybe even shaved my legs.
When You Can’t Remember What Day It Is—Let Alone the Last Time You Fed Baby
The sleep deprivation that goes hand in hand with new parenthood is real, folks. Symptoms include dark under-eye circles and a complete memory meltdown—from having zero clue why you opened the fridge to not recalling the date of your own flippin’ anniversary. Since sound sleep is several years away, let the Echo carry that mental load for you. When something pops into your foggy head, just yell into the ether: “Alexa, remind me to get Lucy a birthday gift tomorrow,” and by golly, she won’t forget. Sync Alexa to your calendar, and she’ll remind you of everything from pediatrician appointments to day care holidays. And when you’re drawing a blank about which side baby nursed on last and when, there’s your new savior Nursing Notes. Enable this skill and ask Alexa to record feeding details and spit the info back at you—no scrambling for a pen or staring at your too-bright phone in the middle of the night needed.
When Your Partner’s on Baby Duty and Needs a Gentle Pay-Attention Reminder
Not to be all finger-waggy, but sometimes (just sometimes) a parent can, you know, accidentally nod off or zone out about what’s next in terms of baby’s ever important daily routine. And sometimes (just sometimes) another parent can get all riled up about such things and spew counterproductive rants about who really deserves a nap around here. A better idea? Pull Alexa into the fray. All you have to do is ask her to set reminders and she’ll tell anyone within earshot that, say, It’s time for Piper’s snack or that Music class starts in 15 minutes. Feeling more in-your-face? Use that Drop In feature like a two-way intercom. So while you’re upstairs about to grab a snooze, you can shout to the den: Go for a walk with baby!
When Your Kid Refuses to Brush His Teeth
As soon as your baby sprouts teeth, you have to start brushing them. And, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should continue brushing those teeth (or at least watching over the toothbrusher) until your child is 8 years old. (Eight! Gah! “Alexa, rewind my life.”) To help you keep those wee pearly whites pearly, use the Echo Dot Kids Edition to tap the free Alexa skill, Chompers. Each two-minute episode features jokes, fun facts and silly songs peppered with “Now brush your top teeth in the way back”-type of prompts. And there’s no yelling! Or struggling! Or empty threats about taking away screentime! I even heard a rumor that kids start to ask to brush their teeth because of this wonderous tool.
When Your Toddler Has a Complete Meltdown
When kids start to crack at the seams due to overstimulation, not enough sleep, or a sock seam that doesn’t sit flat against their toes, a lot of parents (me!) need help not falling apart themselves. While Alexa can’t (yet) give you a massage, pour you a glass of rosé, and pat you like you’re a sleepy puppy, she can hear your “Alexa, open Headspace” cries for help and access its calm-the-bleep-down basics for adults. Not quite ready to get your Zen on? You can always use Alexa’s timer feature to suit all of your sit-in-the-naughty-chair needs.
When You’re Having Trouble Shepherding the Kids Out the Door
Leaving the house with kids is not easy. Or quick. It’s especially not easy or quick when you’ve got a baby in your arms and a big kid at your feet who needs to get to pre-K, like, five minutes ago. While your big kid can’t be expected to, say, put her hair in pigtails quite yet, the Alexa Out the Door skill on Echo Dot Kids Edition can summon her to morph into a superhero and defeat creatures by completing missions, like getting dressed or putting her shoes on.
When You Feel Like an Abject Failure as a Parent
I wish I could tell you that this feeling fades as your children grow. For me, however, the failures simply shift. For instance, I’m no longer failing at sleep training or getting my kids to eat veggies. Instead, I’m failing at curbing smart mouths and video game addictions. (But hey, they like broccoli!) In reality, we’re all failing and thriving simultaneously. Shockingly, however, we only need to be reminded of the latter—and Alexa can help with that if you use the Skill Blueprint to design your own self-affirming sidekick. Simply set it up so that when you ask her a question, she’ll tell you exactly what you want to hear. “Should we order out?” Alexa: Of course! You do enough around here. “Why don’t my kids listen to me?” Alexa: Because they’re all fools. Fools, I tell ya. “Who’s a rock star mom?” Alexa: You are, baby, you are. You can also simply wearily say, “Alexa, flatter me,” and your new bestie will happily dole out a compliment.
Family, Connected, a sponsored series by The Bump and Amazon Echo, is full of tips and tricks for streamlining your life—including staying close to those you love most. Learn more about how Amazon's Echo and Alexa-enabled devices can help.